This second installation in the CPR Zine Series contains a transcript of an interview we did in February 2018 with Jarrod Shook. We discussed prison labour, resistance to prison pay cuts inside, the four-year lawsuit, and next steps in the struggle for better wages and dignity for prisoner workers.
Tonight we bring you an interview with Jarrod Shook about the latest Federal Court ruling on prison wages.
In 2013, the Conservative Government introduced a 30% pay cut to wages for work done by prisoners and called it a “food and accommodation tax” as well as eliminating incentive pay work done at CORCAN facilities, a government agency that contracts out prison labour to both the public and private sector. Prisoners are forced to purchase items such as stamps and personal hygiene products through government designated suppliers, and wages had already decreased sevenfold in actual purchasing power, as they hadn’t been increased since being established in the 1980s.
After exhausting internal grievance procedures, prisoners at Collins Bay Institution launched a work strike, which spread to federal prisons across Canada. Since 2014, several prisoners were fighting a lawsuit against the Government of Canada challenging the constitutionality of the pay cuts. At the end of January, a Federal Court in Ottawa threw out the case, ruling that prison labour falls under ‘programming’ and that prisoners are not in an employer-employee relationship with the Correctional Service of Canada.
I spoke with Jarrod Shook, an ex-prisoner who was a regular contributor to CPR while incarcerated at Collins Bay. He was a spokesperson for the strike in 2013, an applicant on the lawsuit, and he is now studying criminology at the University of Ottawa where he continues to be involved in prison-related activism. We discussed the history of the Inmate Pay System, resistance to prison pay cuts inside, the four-year lawsuit, and next steps in the struggle for better wages and dignity for prisoner workers.
Here you can find an archive of the entire 5 hour special broadcast for Prisoners Justice Day 2017. Thank you to the numerous people who contributed this year. We were so happy to also have the show this year also broadcast on CJAI 92.9 Amherst Island Radio.
Below is a breakdown of what you’ll hear:
00:00 What Is Prisoners Justice Day?
10:00 Dr. John Charlton
28:30 Albert Dumont
56:45 Margaret Holland from Canadian Families in Corrections Network
1:12:30 Mark Kerwin, executive director of KLINK Coffee
1:22:45 Hugh from Ad Astra Comix about forthcoming Peter Collins Anthology
1:42:00 Mary, community support person for a local prisoner
1:57:30 Jarrod Shook about PJD and prison activism in Ottawa
2:20:00 Memorial Segment (reading of names)
2:56:00 Jimmy Hogan statement about prison experiments
3:00:00 Music requests begin
3:43:00 Live interview with Jarrod Shook about PJD events in Ottawa
More music requests
4:14:00 Letter from prisoner at Bath Institution
More music requests
4:57:00 Strong Woman Song
This week we bring you a conversation recorded in Ottawa between a CPR correspondent and Jarrod Shook. If you listen to our show you’ll recognize Jarrod’s name – he was an active voice and frequent contributor to CPR while he was incarcerated at Collins Bay Institution before getting paroled one year ago. He shared his thoughts about what life is like on parole, his engagement with the Ottawa poetry scene, prison activism in Ottawa including opposing new jail construction, his involvement with the Journal of Prisoners on Prison, and Prisoners Justice Day.
Johnny Cash – Redemption Song (ft Joe Strummer)
Bone Thugs – Coming Home (ft Stephen Marley)